Amy Helm | Photo by Liz Waldie |

Amy Helm is a music lifer, the daughter of famed The Band drummer Levon Helm and former member of bands like Ollabelle and The Dirt Farmer Band, and she brought this wealth of experience to to the stage Friday for her Free at Noon performance.

Though Helm’s name is found on the bill, her band The Handsome Strangers, were equally essential to the rousing performance at World Cafe Live. Especially impressive was guitarist Daniel Littleton who frantically swapped guitars throughout the set, each time able to find a sound wholly unique and decidedly awesome. Drummer David Berger and bassist Byron Isaacs — who also serves as Helm’s songwriting partner — formed the backbone of many of the songs, providing a solid foundation from which Helm was able to show-off her indisputable vocal talent.

The early portion of the set was dominated by rocking, country-inspired jams, playing loud and fast and giving the audience the kick they needed just as their morning coffee’s revitalizing powers began to wane. About halfway through, though, they decided to take a whole new approach and flew some of their more understated muscles. The band rearranged, bringing Isaacs and Littleton closer to the main mic and allowing for some superb harmonization and vocal layering. Just as audience was ready to call it an afternoon, Helm and company roared back with some rocking tracks to cap the electric set.

Amy Helm will be returning to the Philadelphia area on February 27 at Ardmore Music Hall in support of singer-songwriter Anders Osborne. For tickets or more information on that show visit the XPN Concert calendar. Listen back to the Free at Noon and check out a photo gallery below.

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